DEER ISLE — The president of the Island Nursing Home Board of Directors has stepped down. Ronda Dodge informed the board several weeks ago that if she was able to successfully secure a one-year extension of the temporary closure license for Island Nursing Home from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, then she would step down to focus on other things. The extension was granted on Tuesday, July 19. Dodge announced to the board that she was stepping down during a regular board meeting on Thursday, July 21.
“Nobody worked harder than Ronda Dodge on behalf of Island Nursing Home,” said new board president Leon Weed. “Her know-how, her common-sense approach, and her patience with the process has left no stone unturned. As a board, we are moving forward with the one-year extension, so we have a little more time and flexibility to determine next steps. The staffing issues for nursing facilities remain problematic not just in Maine, but around the country. These issues are not going away, and we will continue to do our best to find the best use for this facility.”
Island Nursing Home closed in October 2021 and has explored several avenues to allow it to reopen as a nursing home. However, staffing shortages — in particular, nursing shortages — locally, nationally and globally have proven to be too big of an obstacle for the skilled nursing component of a nursing home that has a significant staff requirement in order for it to operate safely.
Island Nursing Home is not alone in the struggle to find qualified staff for its facility. A recent analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that Maine ranks third in the country for facilities with staffing shortages. The data found that about 38 percent of Maine nursing care facilities have staffing shortages, trailing only Washington state and Minnesota. The staffing shortages continue to affect nursing homes as about 300 have closed in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, and about 400 more are expected to close by the end of this year. Nationally, the situation is more bleak. A survey released last month by the American Health Care Association found that 98 percent of nursing home operators are having trouble hiring, and 73 percent said staffing issues could force them to close.
The Island Nursing Home Board of Directors has been answering questions throughout the process via a podcast, which is available on the news page of the organization’s website. A full board report and Frequently Asked Questions about this situation can also be found at www.IslandNursingHome.org.